AUBURN – Grading Auburn following its dominant 41-17 win over Western Kentucky.
No crucial mistakes from Robby Ashford on Saturday. The quarterback was not asked to do much in the passing game as the offense relied on the running game, but the freshman quarterback was solid in the last home game of the year. With eight completions on 19 attempts, it was not the most efficient night for Ashford, but he had a few clutch scrambles and finished with 37 yards on the ground.
Running Backs: A+
Another pair of 100-yard games for one of the best duos in college football. Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter were excellent in the second half and a vital part of Auburn securing the win. The backs were responsible for all four touchdowns on the day including Hunter’s first passing touchdown of his career.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C+
In the limited offense that Auburn has been running since Carnell Williams was promoted to head coach, Auburn’s receiving corps has seen little action in the new run heavy offense. However, Koy Moore’s touchdown grab was huge in the first half and Shedrick Jackson had a big third down conversion on Auburn’s opening drive.
Offensive Line: C+
The shifting across the line continued with injuries to Jeremiah Wright and different rotations between series, and while the line struggled in the first half with just 71 yards on the ground, the group began to move the pile in the second half with 181 rushing yards. It was a big improvement for the unit and a crucial part of Auburn’s victory.
Defensive Line: B
Auburn struggled to generate any pressure during the first half, but the unit helped shut out the Western Kentucky offense in the second half, finishing the game with two sacks. They also shut down the Hilltopper running game in the second half, holding them to just 28 yards on 14 carries.
After struggling a lot through the first half of the season, the linebacking group has come together during the past few games, led by the duo of Owen Pappoe and Cam Riley. Riley and Pappoe combined for 13 tackles and helped keep Western Kentucky’s running game from getting to the second level.
Defensive Backs: B+
Some clutch pass breakups and two interceptions, the Tigers’ defensive backs were up to the challenge of the Western Kentucky passing offense. A tough busted coverage on a missed sack led to the Hilltoppers’ first touchdown, but Auburn's defensive backfield locked things down in the second half. The unit had 10 pass breakups overall. The D.J. James pick-six capped off a great night for Auburn’s secondary.
Special Teams: B+
All the way around, a good day for Auburn on special teams. Alex McPherson was 2-for-2, including a clutch 51-yard field goal in the first half. Oscar Chapman was as consistent as ever punting the football, and Auburn utilized a creative formation on punt returns with two return men back there, leading to some solid returns from Keionte Scott and Dazalin Worsham.
It was not a perfect gameplan, and Auburn did give up a 17-3 lead and was tied at 17 heading into the locker room, but the second half adjustments were brilliant. With 24 points in the second half and a complete shutout of the Hilltoppers' offense, the adjustments from Cadillac and his staff were nearly perfect. A coaching clinic in the second half from a new-look staff in its third game together.
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